Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust’s ambition to become a prestigous training centre for laparoscopic surgery has been dealt another blow after the University of Kent closed a post-graduate course linked to the centre.

The two-year masters in minimal access surgery programme will be shutdown once its only student graduates, a spokesman for the university confirmed.

This latest blow comes as the trust confirmed to HSJ that its whole laproscopic training programme had been on hold for 10 months because of sickness among its administrative staff.

The training programme had been based at its “International Access Centre for Surgery” at Maidstone Hospital, which includes a 180 seater auditorium, capable of broadcasting footage across the globe.

Courses at the centre had been offered to surgeons wanting to master laparoscopic techniques at £900 for two days.

News of the temporary suspension of the training programme follows the publication of  a series of critical reports into specialist surgery at the trust.

Last week the Care Quality Commission alleged that poor surgical practices - identified in an earlier report by the Royal College of Surgeons - could be widespread at the trust.

The trust has challenged the CQC’s claims, arguing that they were based on incorrect assumptions and that its hospitals were safe and that it had “good mortality rates”.

The trust said the IMACS course was part of a bigger programme of medical and surgical training at the Maidstone Academic Centre.

The rest of this programme will continue, as will some palaroscopic training separate to the centre for surgery’s programme. This would not involve upper gastrointestinal surgery or the surgeons mentioned in the RCS’s report.